It’s a wonder to me how San Francisco based Mechanical Zoo, a startup founded by Max Ventilla (Google corp dev), Nathan Stoll (Google News) and Damon Horowitz (Perspecta), has managed to keep its social search product called Aardvark mostly out of the press these last few months. Even as it spreads virally via friend invitations in the private beta.
But that’s all going to end soon. The fifteen person company has raised $6 million (including an earlier angel round) in a highly anticipated venture capital financing led by August Capital. Additional investors include Baseline Ventures and a number of angels.
The company’s first product, Aardvark, is a social search engine that lets users ask questions that are distributed to the social graph for a quick and presumably high quality answers. I’ve spoken with a handful of people who have been using the product for the last month or more – every one of them is wildly enthusiastic about it.
The company won’t say when they’ll leave private beta. It’s clear that the quality of the user experience is based on having a number of real friends also using it, which means that private invitations is actually a perfect way to grow. So for now, if you want in to Aardvark, you have to know someone else who’s using the service (ok, it’s also on InviteShare, but that’s cheating).